The extraordinary nature of the alliance between Donald Trump and the evangelical right in the US was once again put on display at the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Two evangelical pastors preached at the event, John Hagee and Robert Jeffress.
They both believe that the adherents of Judaism are damned to the fires of hell for all eternity and Hagee has, in the past, actually described Adolf Hitler as having been chosen by God to force the Jews to settle in Palestine.
President Donald Trump is ratcheting up the pressure against Iran, as well as elsewhere. Indeed, his election campaign was fought partly on the “bad deal” that was struck over Iran and nuclear weapons. Now he has pulled out of the deal and is putting pressure on others to do the same. In order to understand the current situation we should revisit the history of meddling by the US.
One of the most important but least known dimensions of the neoliberal counter-revolution is the privatisation of security and of the military. This process leaped ahead during the US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, by 2008, the US Department of Defence spent nearly half its budget on private contractors. As Hever points out, Israel is a long way behind the US, but the privatisation process has nevertheless clearly begun and is moreover part of a global development. Even now, Russian private contractors are fighting for the Assad regime in Syria!
The Christian right played a crucial strategic role in the election of Donald Trump and continues, despite everything, to provide him with the hard core of his support. According to one poll, not only did evangelical Christians constitute nearly a third of votes in the 2016 presidential election, but 81 percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump.
John Newsinger, author of a new book on George Orwell’s politics, looks at how his stance as an independent socialist led him to great radicalism and terrible betrayal.
On 8 October 1945 the BBC broadcast a talk on Jack London by George Orwell. It was part of the Corporation’s educational talks for members of the armed forces. Here Orwell praised London and in particular his novel, The Iron Heel, for his understanding of the nature of the capitalist class. London, he told his listeners, recognised that the capitalists would never give up their wealth and power without a fight not a fight on the floor of the House of Commons, but on the streets.
The British ruling class has for many years made a habit of grovelling to the Saudi royal family. The reason for this is clear: huge amounts of money. The Saudis have spent billions on British weapons. This trade has been recently given a great boost by the Saudi war on Yemen.
Consequently one was entitled to expect that the BBC4 three-part series, House of Saud: A Family at War, would be very much an apology for the Saudis, celebrating the supposed huge strides that have been made in liberalising the regime in recent years.
The setting up of the Office for Students, chaired by Michael Barber, signals that a new neoliberal assault on higher education is underway. This assault was prepared for by the government’s criticism of vice chancellors’ pay excesses, as if any Tory government has an objection to excessive pay for bosses!
In his new memoir the former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown seeks to rebrand himself as a cuddly old leftie fit for the Corbyn era. John Newsinger recalls some of the evidence to the contrary.
While there were never any serious policy differences between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, the conflict between the two men and their supporters was not just about personalities, or about who should be prime minister.
The 1997 general election saw the hated Tories thrown out, indeed humiliated, and a bright New Labour government take office under an idealistic young leader, Tony Blair. There was widespread hope of change and improvement. It is useful to remember how enthusiastic much of the left was about Blair at this time with one former Communist Party intellectual actually describing New Labour as a “Gramscian project”!